The farmers of India have shown the way and reiterated the lesson that the parliamentary way is not the form to fight fascism; anti-fascists must take control of the streets.
The 71 anniversary of India’s Republic Day defined a new journey of the ongoing farmers movement demanding the repeal of the anti-people pro-corporate farm laws. The hundreds of thousands of farmers and their supporters encircled Delhi along with thousands of tractors. Their march through the capital challenging the Adani-Ambani-Company Raj ignited the spirit of 1857 when farmers in uniform unfurled the flag of freedom against the British Company Raj. Starting from November 26, when the present movement started, the Narendra Modi government tried every possible way to isolate, discredit and divide the movement. But the firm leadership of the movement and unprecedented unity and determination of the masses defeated every attack by the fascist forces to defend the interest of the broader section of the agricultural population. The movement has aroused tremendous hope among the other struggling sections of the society and further succeeded in gaining massive support from all corners of the globe.
Strengthening the barricades, they provoked, lathi charged and fired tear gas shells on the farmers near Azadpur by-pass and Nangloi. The farmers broke barricades at Singhu, Tikri and Gazipur borders and continued their march. The police even fired on the unarmed mass and a farmer was killed near the ITO. Even some criminal elements of the RSS-Sangh Parivar infiltrated the rally to create disturbances and malign the movement.
Despite such attacks and constant malicious campaigns from the mainstream media tagging protestors “Khalistanis” “Naxals” etc, more farmers are enthusiastically taking to the streets to get associated with the historic resistance as days are passing. The loss of over 150 lives over a period of two months could not dampen the spirit of the struggling masses. The protesting farmers became more furious about the conspiracy the government tried to hatch on January 26 to malign the movement.
Post January 26, the Godi media started propagating that the movement is disintegrating. But in reality, there have been four major events-the hunger strike of farmers on January 30, the roadblocks at nearly 3000 locations on 6th February, the candle march for the martyrs of this historic movement and nationwide “rail roko” on 18th February. As claimed by the leadership of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), which has emerged as the unified leadership of the movement, the unity between farmers and other working people are getting stronger with time and the events post January 26 are the manifestation of that unity. The movement is still on track inspite of arrests and intimidation of farmers, activists and honest journalists. Apart from the fights on streets, the matured leadership of SKM is working on the part of legal assistance to support over a hundred arrested people. A large team of lawyers are collectively working together to free all those incarcerated unjustly.
Masses rallied in Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore and other cities calling for repeal of the farm laws. By mid of February, the movement had spread to new areas in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Farmers in Rajasthan blocked toll plazas. Thousands of people are gathering in the Kisan Mahapanchayats that are being organized in the village level. The purpose of the Mahapanchayets is to raise awareness about the laws. The latest one on March 20, a Mahapanchayat was organized in Shivamogga in Karnataka in the presence of Dr. Darshan Pal, Rakesh Tikait and Yudhvir Singh from the SKM and saw the participation of almost 15,000 farmers. Apart from farmers, laborers, unemployed youth and other sections of the oppressed masses are participating in thousands cutting across the line of caste and religion.
More than 150 Khaps in western UP and Haryana which were known to be the regressive caste councils have been re-shaped as the centers for protest against farm laws. In this region, BJP is losing its ground within Jats who have rallied behind the party. A Jat farmer Pradeep said, ‘the BJP created a division between communities in the region but that will not hold anymore.’ Miraz, a Muslim peasant from Shamli in UP talked on similar lines mentioning “If we have to protect our lands, our occupation, all of us will have to come together….and that is why we have come here in solidarity with the rest of the communities.”
As ordered by the corporates and the government, the mainstream media has completely stopped covering the movement. The protesting leadership of the SKM are getting coverage mostly in online and social media. There are certain limitations under which a large farmers’ front like SKM can operate. There are trying their best to take care of the sentiments of protestors from varied sections of the society. The last offer made by the government was the suspension of the laws for at least 18 months. But the leadership rejected it and are continuing the true fight against the fascist. Other ruling class parties also took chance to grab the movement at various levels. But the enormous participation of masses with tremendous zeal have not left any space for them to play their cards.
SKM protestors marked the 100th day of their agitation on March 6 on the doorsteps of the capital by blockading the Western Peripheral Expressway which surrounds the city and connects the three major protest sites at Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur. Apart from the repeal of the three laws, they are also demanding a legal guarantee of minimum support prices for their crops.
At the doorstep of state elections in Bengal and some other states, when there have been lots of debate by intellectuals on the question of defeating BJP, the farmers of India have shown the way and reiterated the lesson that the parliamentary way is not the form to fight fascism; anti-fascists must take control of the streets.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s